As a student it's not unusual to come across terms, concepts or ideas that are either vague or alltogether unknown to you. One of the best sources of general business information, especially definitions of concepts is Investopedia.com. Next time you come across a ratio or finance formula or marketing terms that's unknown to you, try it out.
Researching a target market and/or marketing environment can be complex, time consuming and difficult. Your best bet is to start early. Simply put, this is not the kind of research you do in an all night cram session. Or even the day before. The type of research required to assess markets and industries is rarely canned or 'out of the box.' Instead it requires the researcher to check many industry, statistical and demographic resources in order to gather together a portrait of the geographic area (target market assessment) or industry (marketing environment.)
For your target market assessment your single most useful tool will be SimplyMap. This is an amazing resource that allows you to see demographic and business information by state,county, city, zip code or census block.
To assess your marketing environment/industry you need to use a large number of sources including IBIS World, ABI Inform, Market Share Reporter, and Business Source Premier, among others.
You can access all of these resources under the RESEARCHING INDUSTRIES tab with detailed instructions on how to use them.
Finally, a tip that could help you succeed when industry research leaves you empty handed: Research specific targeted companies within the industry to see how they handle an issue or topic. For example: Maybe your industry research isn't turning up anything valuable or specific about legal challenges in the industry.You could search a company from within the industry and review their 10-K and the section with "Legal Proceedings" in order to see what types of lawsuits or legal proceedings they've been a part of in the last year or so. Check a few companies and patterns will emerge that will allow you to form an opinion about the industry overall. Or maybe your unsure what challenges your targeted company may face in the near future. Or opportunities for that matter. Review a sampling of similar companies' SWOT analysis from Datamonitor to start brain-storming and creating a SWOT analysis for your company or industry-wide assessment. Both types of research databases can be found under the RESEARCHING COMPANIES tab.